The Rathdrum Prairie CAMP — short for Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan — is currently being drafted by the Idaho Water Resources Board for the long-term management of our important local aquifer, the sole source of drinking water for more than a half million people. Jeff Briggs from our summer legal team files this report from the Rathdrum Prairie CAMP meeting being held in Coeur d’Alene today:
This morning I attended Dr. Venkataramana Sridhar’s talk on climate change related impacts expected to occur on the Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer. Interesting was the fact that five different models are used to predict the range of water flow in the context of differing CO2 emission scenarios. Depending upon the amount of CO2 discharged into the atmosphere, the climate could be expected to warm as little as .18 degrees Fahrenheit in a decade to as much as 9.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The models generally predict a 4-5% increase in precipitation, although some predict a decrease. Notably though, all five models in Dr. Sridhar’s study predict that peak flows will shift from May to April due to earlier snowmelt.
This study, to provide projections for the CAMP, has a long road ahead. Although the present study is focused on natural flow variations related to climate change, additional studies will be needed to integrate how human land use patterns can have an effect on natural flow. However, even without an increased intensity of land use, the projected natural flow variations provide an impetus to increase water storage and conservation efforts into the CAMP in order to ensure adequate water supply for times of groundwater recharge scarcity.